Definition of lung cancer: Cancer that forms in tissues of the lung, usually in the cells lining air passages.
Video (Dr. Stan Wasbin, Medical Director for Your Cancer Today, discusses the statistics regarding lung cancer.)
The lungs, a pair of sponge-like, cone-shaped organs, are part of the respiratory system. The right lung has three sections, called lobes; it is a little larger than the left lung, which has two lobes. When we breathe in, the lungs take in oxygen, which our cells need to live and carry out their normal functions. When we breathe out, the lungs get rid of carbon dioxide, which is a waste product of the body's cells.
Cancers that begin in the lungs are divided into two major types, non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer, depending on how the cells look under a microscope.
Each type of lung cancer grows and spreads in different ways and is treated differently.
Non-small cell lung cancer is more common than small cell lung cancer, and it generally grows and spreads more slowly. There are three main types of non-small cell lung cancer. They are named for the type of cells in which the cancer develops: squamous cell carcinoma (also called epidermoid carcinoma), adenocarcinoma, and large cell carcinoma.
Small cell lung cancer, sometimes called oat cell cancer, is less common than non-small cell lung cancer. This type of lung cancer grows more quickly and is more likely to spread to other organs in the body.
Video (Watch the story of Lenny Cappland, an artist from Laguna Beach that has survived lung cancer.)
Source: National Cancer Institute